My first goal with the New Life Doll Project is to find used, “well-loved”, discarded barbies second-hand and breathe new life into them to promote natural beauty and modesty. This change is intended for the younger generation and the current one. I rework their face, recondition, cut, and sometimes resew their hair, and clothe them in more appropriate outfits. The clothes I choose are also second-hand, a lot of them dating back to the 60s. I’d love for the viewers to know that they do not have to dress provocatively or overly cover their natural faces to be seen or valued. Who they are, their minds, their personalities, and their original design is more than enough.
Secondly my goal in recycling and refreshing these dolls is to champion women in need of second chances. I look at these castaway dolls and feel a deep compassion for them. It wasn’t until I started working with dolls that not only looked inappropriate and overdone, but also mistreated, did my mind click on the deeper meaning of this project. These dolls are representations of real women with real struggles. Women who feel cast aside, damaged, worthless. Women who feel hopeless like there is no way out. I truly hope my project gives them some small feeling of hope, like change and redemption are possible, like healing is possible, like their future can be a beautiful and whole one.
When I begin with a doll I feel they are exhausted and in need of a rescue. When I finish, it’s like they’ve taken a big deep breath, ready to face tomorrow. Isn’t that what we all want?
Click HERE to listen to the interview on “Lexington’s Art Throb” on Lexington Community Radio 93.9FM with Kate Savage.
Click HERE to read Joel Darland’s review of the exhibition.
**Now available on Amazon is a catalogue of the first fifty dolls of the New Life Doll Project, alongside an essay regarding the mission and my personal experience with the project.**
Click HERE to purchase the book or view it’s listing.